CSA Physio Blog

Common Golf Injuries and What to Do About Them!

Posted on: May 16th, 2019 by Dan Gregg

The return of Spring means the start of another golf season in Canada. The fresh air, the smell of cut grass, and the feeling of making a clutch putt is second to none. As good as the golf experience can be, it’s easily ruined by either an acute or a nagging season long injury. Golf Digest identifies several common areas of injuries and some “quick fixes” to address these issues.   Have you considered a longer-term fix for the underlying physical reasons why your swing hurts?

Understanding how your body functions affects your swing

How often do you hear yourself saying “I swear I used to drive the ball 30 yards further.”  Or “ I’ll just play the slice”.
• The golf swing is a full body motion requiring the entire chain of bones and muscles to act in a controlled sequence.  This allows proper contact, sufficient torque, and adequate force to generate the best shot possible.
• Understanding ideal body mechanics through ball-contact can do wonders for your overall ball striking and accuracy. When I examine you, I identify your limitations in strength, mobility and biomechanics.  From there I create a plan of action to get back your confident, smooth swing.

Three Common injuries in Golfers: 

Back Pain

  • Imbalance or lack of control of your core, back musculature, and insufficient mobility and control with rotation in your trunk is a problem.  This can lead to muscle strains with a repetitive and forceful golf swing.
  • Golf requires hours of time bent over a ball, requiring rotational control with repetitive swinging. Back pain occurs at some point in 80% of Canadians, meaning an already upset back can be further irritated during golf.
  • When I examine you, I’m looking for areas of weakness in your core and lower back, and loss of mobility and control in your trunk.   Fixing this can help prevent or alleviate issues causing back pain.

Elbow Pain (Golfers/Tennis Elbow)

  • Overuse of the wrist can happen at the top of your backswing to create a lengthened swing arc.  It can also happen during follow-through or when applying back spin.  This repetitively strains both your extensor (backhand bending) and flexor (forehand bending) muscles.
  • The repetitive muscle contractions, or a sudden jolt through the forearms like when contacting the ground or a heavy set of grass can irritate the attachment sites of those muscles.  This can lead to pain on the outer or inner part of your elbow.
  • Repetition over a period of time can lead to chronic tendinopathy, resulting in inflammation. This may lead to muscular/tendon breakdown near the bony attachment sites.
  • I use specific physiotherapy modalities to manage the pain and swelling in these areas.  In addition, I help adapt your swing to minimize these strains.  I’ll encourage you to follow a tailored exercise regime to develop and train the specific forehand and backhand muscles.  This builds both power and endurance to last your entire golf season.

Knee Pain

  • A fluid swing requires the transition of the hips and torso through contact with a stable base, especially on your lead foot.
  • Weak stabilization of the knee during this accelerated hip/torso transition is a problem.  It can create repetitive outside-to-inside stress on your lead leg and inside-to-outside stress on your trail leg.
  • Repetitive strain on the structures in the area can cause pain.  Specifically your lateral and medial collateral ligaments, your cartilage (meniscus), and your deep (cruciate) ligaments.
  • Again, I provide you a tailored program to address the musculature surrounding the knee for stabilization and support of these structures during your swing.  The end result: less pain and more gain!

Final Thoughts- A Proper Warm-Up!

I always recommend you consider a proper warm-up routine to ready your body and warm up your muscles for your gold game. Walking from the parking lot to the first tee expecting to hit a sound drive is somewhat of a pipe dream for most. Generally this leads to a “breakfast ball” on the first shot, followed by 6 or 7 holes to start feeling “warm”.  Eventually,  with hope, your swing feels right. If you’re wasting a third of the round preparing your body for a proper swing, there is a good chance that score won’t be dropping anytime soon. It may be that we need to develop an appropriate warm-up routine for your body to allow you to start strong and stay strong throughout the round.

Golf is a wonderful game.  Unless you prepare your body for the rigours of a season of golf, you can find yourself frustrated, with lingering aches and pains, poor rounds, and missed shots. It may be worth your time to see a physiotherapist to address some of these common golf injuries when they occur, or better yet, before they even begin. Thanks for reading, and happy golfing!

Daniel Gregg, PT

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